Perhaps that sunset had been more glorious only minutes earlier while my head was buried down in my computer. As I turn now to locate some piece of paper on my desk, I catch what is left of it out of the corner of my eye. Can I stop to go experience it? Will I stop?
My email box is overflowing. I have a list of people who I know would appreciate a pastoral phone call. I’m thinking about them; it would be good if they knew it. There are worship services to plan, next week’s sermon to be chiseled out of some rock in my soul. So many days, I walk out of the church building after dark. I enjoy the evening air, but I feel like I probably missed something. The day was so full that I couldn’t afford the time for a walk around Commonwealth Lake just across the street.
But the beauty of these colors calls to something deep in my soul. A powerful “yes.” Now, the sky beckons. I can’t wait. I won’t wait. I am here. I am waiting. Now.
I imagine that something is always calling me, but tonight I hear it. See it, actually, in the beautiful colors painted across the sky.
I close the office door behind me and open up to the beauty of the sunset on Commonwealth Lake. I arrive at the edge of the lake and stop to take it in. The ducks and the geese are coming in for the evening. One by one, they walk up the mud into the grass and shake themselves off. Some of the younger ones continue to swim. Perhaps these are the ducklings I saw earlier in the spring who have now reached their adolescence. My mother made me come in when the streetlights came on. Is the setting of the sun such a cue for young ducks. At what point do their mothers stop caring if they are still out swimming after the sun disappears? Or is it simply a fact of life that, regardless of whether they care or not, all mothers eventually have to resolve themselves to the fact that there is nothing they can do about it anyway?
Further on up the path is a very little boy on a very small two-wheeled bike pedaling hard to try to catch up with his older brother. The streetlights are on now. Perhaps these two are late getting home and rushing to arrive before their mother notices.
Two men sit on the railing of the bridge I am crossing. The are talking in Spanish. I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t understand what they are saying, but there is a lot of “mucho.” The pace of their speech is so much slower than mine. I suppose that can be said of most people in comparison to me. But even more so here. I think about the campesino farmers I met in Nicaragua among whom fewer words were needed and the time to share them so much more abundant.
The sky grows darker. Its colors are gone now. Like the last of the young ducks, I reluctantly head in.
I couldn’t really afford to take that walk tonight. I can’t afford this time to stop to write about it either. It feels so familiar. I can’t afford the time it would take to quit driving my car and take public transportation. I can’t afford the time it takes to buy and cook locally grown organic food, produced with justice for the workers and kindness to the land. I can’t afford to organize with other people to demand that governments and corporations help us move beyond fossil fuels now.
And yet deep in my soul, I know that I can’t afford not to.
Arundhati Roy said, “Not only is another world possible, she is on her way. On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.” I am not sure how often my days are quiet enough to hear her breathing. But tonight, I saw her sunset.
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